Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The small dairy farmers of Uruguay

The small dairy farmers of Uruguay or the "crudero" could hardly make a living selling their dairy directly to their neighborhoods. Most crudero not only have small herds but also small properties to let the cattle graze in, so expansion for more sales was impossible. Some crudero resorted to diluting their milk water in a scheme to sell more product.

To help the crudero, business and government teamed together to help pull the small farmers out of poverty. An Uruguay dairy company built a plant in a provience that is home to many crudero. The small farmers now are able to sell their milk to the plant, who then ships the product to a wider range of customers.

From IPS, writer Dino Cappelli explains the project further.

Two years ago, Mauber Olveira, director of development in the Durazno city government, and former mayor Carmelo Vidalín were the driving forces behind one of the alliances to integrate the "cruderos" into the modern milk processing industry.

The formula, Olveira told IPS, was to get Nutrísima, a Uruguayan dairy company, to build a plant in the city of Durazno, which has a population of 35,000 and is the capital of the department of the same name.

The plant buys raw milk from local farmers, pasteurises it and sells it to supermarkets and other buyers.

The project included financial aid agreements to enable dairy farmers to purchase equipment and livestock to boost production.

The assistance - totaling more than 100,000 dollars - forms part of an agreement between the Dirección de Proyectos de Desarrollo (development projects office), which answers to the president's office, and Nutrísima.

The manager of the company in Durazno, Carlos Kuster, explained that the agreement translates into "financial support of around 2,000 dollars per farmer, aimed at ensuring the purchase of a freezer."

He also said "it is quite feasible that equipment will be imported to give small-scale farmers the possibility to collect two days' worth of milk and deliver it every other day to the plant, thus significantly reducing transportation costs."

Kuster said the aid also "makes it possible for farmers to purchase cattle and feed, which is the best use for financial assistance under the current circumstances."

Claudia Jeannette Pérez, president of the association of former "cruderos" from the areas surrounding the city of Durazno, explained that they used to sell raw milk, artisanal cheeses, eggs and vegetables "door to door, in shops and in the local open air markets."

Today, all that has changed.

They no longer live below the poverty line, and there are now proper hygiene conditions on their small farms, which must live up to certain standards in order to sell their milk to the pasteurisation plant.

Furthermore, they now have access to running water - essential to maintaining production levels and standards - and many also have electricity.

1 comment:

D. Watson said...

Thank you for posting this.